Martel (missile)

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Martel (AS 37)
Martel AS.37 on display at RAF Museum Cosford.
Type standoff anti-radar missile (AS 37) / air-to-surface (AJ.168)
Place of origin UK/France
Service history
Used by

Royal Air Force

Armée de l'Air
Wars Operation Epervier
Production history
Manufacturer Hawker Siddeley, Matra
Produced 1984
No. built 300 antiradar (150 for both France and UK), plus an unknown number of TV version (only for UK)[1]
Variants AS 37 "Martel" radar, AS37 "Armat", AJ 168 "Martel" Video
Weight 550 kg
Length 4.18 m
Diameter 0.4 m
Warhead 150 kg and fitted with a Misznay–Schardin plate
proximity fuze

Engine two stage solid propellant rocket motors
Wingspan 1.2 m
60 km max (estimated, and depending on the launch conditions)
Flight ceiling ?
Speed Mach 0.9 +
passive radar homing,video guided
fixed wing aircraft

The Martel is an Anglo-French anti-radiation missile (ARM). The name Martel is a contraction of Missile, Anti-Radiation, Television, referring to the guidance options. There are two variants, the passive radar guided (AS 37) and the video guided (AJ 168).

Martel AJ 168 TV-guided missile display round
Although displayed alongside a Mirage, the Mirage only carried the AS.37

The aircraft that used these missiles were the Blackburn Buccaneer (up to three TV or four ARM variant), the SEPECAT Jaguar (two), the Mirage III/F1 (one or two), and the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod (at least one). The Martel was suited to anti-ship attack with its long range and heavy warhead. There was not, at the time, a small radar homing missile like the AGM-84 Harpoon with an active radar, so the only viable solution was a TV or ARM sensor. With a relatively long range, a heavy payload, and a subsonic speed, this missile compares more to an anti-ship weapon like the Exocet or the AS.34 Kormoran than an anti-radar missile. It weighs three times as much as the AGM-45 Shrike, with half the speed but much greater range and explosive power.

It was possible to adapt the Martel ARM to be used against different wavelength radars. It was an improvement compared to the early Standard ARM missiles, that had only one narrow-band homing sensor. But the ARM sensor was only selectable on the ground, not in flight and so before taking-off it was necessary to know what kind of radar should be attacked.

The UK has used both types, the French only the radar-equipped variant. The Martel fuselage forms the basis for the Sea Eagle anti-ship missile with a turbojet to improve range, while the French used it to develop ARMAT, an advanced ARM missile in the 1980s.[2] For ARM functions, the RAF adopted a totally new and much smaller missile, the ALARM.

Operational history[edit]

The Martel was used by France against Libya during the Epervier military operation, supporting Chad. On January 7, 1987 four French Jaguars took off carrying one Martel each. Three did not launch their missiles, for they were programmed to aim at specific radar wavelengths,[3] but the last one hit an SA-6 radar, destroying it completely.[4]

On March 7, following an air raid by Libyan MiG-21s and MiG-23s, another strike was mounted by ten Martel-equipped Jaguars from EC 4/11 (or more likely EC 3/3 "Ardennes" as that unit was the Martel specialist) against the radar installations at Ouadi Doum air base.[5]


Map with Martel operators in blue and former operators in red

Current operators[edit]


Former operators[edit]

 United Kingdom


  • War machine encyclopedia, Limited publishing 1984, Pag. 1445-46 (Italian version printed by De Agostini)
  • Sgarlato, Nico, in volo contro i radar, A&D magazine, Delta editions, December 1990.
  • Cooper, Tom (November 13, 2003), Libyan Wars, 1980-1989, Part 6, Air Combat Information Group